A Sacred Beach Getaway to Koh Nang Yuan (Thailand)

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The postcard-worthy view of Koh Nang Yuan in Koh Tao, Thailand.

Koh Tao is yet another popular destination in the Gulf of Thailand due to its colorful coral reefs that make it popular for diving because it attracts a large variety of sea creatures.  In addition to that, there are many beach huts and ocean resorts on the island making it a lively place. “Koh Tao” actually means “Turtle Island”, and you can see that a lot of the islands within it resemble turtles due to their leafy green foliage and surrounding rocks.

I chose to go to Koh Nang Yuan (on the northwest coast of Koh Tao) which is a chain of 3 gorgeous islets that are great for scuba diving.  Once arriving by speedboat, you can reach all of them on-foot by using a sandbar that spans in-between them.  If you climb up a trail from the boardwalk you can see one of the most amazing views in Thailand!  The emerald oceans glisten beautifully from above, and it truly feels like paradise.

In order to reach Koh Tao, I took a speedboat from my resort in Koh Samui.  I booked an affordable tour from Klook in advance, and had more than enough time to go swimming, hiking, and eat a buffet meal that was included in the tour.  Though some articles I’ve read online warn tourists to stay away from Koh Tao due to a series of murders that were found on the island (source: News.au), I did not sense any hostility while I was on this tour, and I think it is more than fine to visit even as a solo traveler as long as you are responsible.

During my trip here, I decided to stay in Tango Bay Resort on Koh Samui (for around $50 per night), because it is conveniently located and there are more activities to do on the island.  I enjoyed staying on Chaweng Beach because it is lively but still feels like a private beach.  My resort came with a private hut, a pool, a delicious restaurant and bar with a happy hour every day, and a beach, so I felt more than welcome!

When I walked into my room, both of the towels were folded like elephants!  It was truly a sight to behold and I couldn’t get over how cute they were.  I was impressed at how beautiful the beach was at night with the lanterns hanging from the trees and reflecting off the ocean.  I saw many people having weddings here and felt luxurious since I came here by myself.  Whether you’re with people or alone, it’s really hard to be sad here.

There are 3 foods that I recommend trying in Thailand: Seafood (any kind), sticky mango rice, and coconut ice cream (ideal if it’s from a real coconut).  I was fortunate that I could have all three on the beach!

It was great to relax here after being trapped in an office for so long.  I can’t stress how important it is to get away from the city and take an island vacation!  It doesn’t have to be expensive because countries like Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam, and more are very affordable, and the quality of service is usually quite good.  I hope that everyone reading this is inspired to come here some day!

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That’s all for now–see you next menu, Space Cowboy!

A Relaxing Day and Vivid Night in Koh Lanta, Thailand

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A night to remember at the Mushroom Bar Paint Party in Koh Lanta.

Koh Lanta is one of my favorite places in Thailand due to its exotic nature and vivid nightlife featuring parties with fire acrobatics and neon lights.  The island is small enough that you can pretty much see all the major destinations in three days, but the beaches stretch on for miles and there are many bars so you could spend quite a long time here and never get bored.  There are less tourists on this island because there are no airports here, but you will run into a lot of adventurous backpackers and it’s really easy to make friends during evening events.

The best way to come to Koh Lanta is by taking a 3 hour ferry from Phuket or other surrounding islands (I booked my ticket online in advance through 12go).  I stayed at Pinky Bungalow Resort, and booked my own private bungalow for less than $25 per night by going through Booking instead of their official website.  My bungalow was right on the beach and it also had a pool with a lot of delicious restaurants nearby!

Outside of my bungalow were a lot of stray cats!  One kitten was a tuxedo cat that reminded me of my own cat, Leo.  The staff of Pinky Bungalows were really friendly and helped me call a taxi to get around.  You can also use apps like Grab (which is similar to Lyft and Uber in the US), or rent a motorbike.

One of my favorite restaurants was called Happy Veggie, near the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare Center.  Here I had a delicious vegan burger with a black sesame bun, and an acai yogurt smoothie bowl for dessert.  It was absolutely delicious and the fruit was some of the freshest that I have ever had.

I spent the majority of the day swimming on the beach next to my bungalow, and also taking photographs of the surrounding nature.  As I was on my way to my hotel via taxi, I noticed a sign for a neon paint party at Mushroom Bar.  After looking it up, I found that it was right across the street from my bungalow so I went over around 7pm to check it out!

I was in for a wild night as lanterns illuminated the beach overhead and neon paint glowed with messages left behind from previous backpackers who had came here.  I ordered a blue vodka cocktail and was informed that the party wouldn’t start until 10pm so I decided to lay in a hammock and catch up with my messages.

When I went up for my 2nd drink, I noticed there was a special drink menu with happy shakes and joints for sale, so I curiously decided to order the happy shake.  The bartender confirmed that my order was correct, then he blended the strange concoction for me and I sipped on it for a while as people finally started coming to the party.

As the night went on, the breeze felt cooler, the colors danced and flickered with the music, and before I knew it, I was dancing on the beach with these travelers from Britian, and free tequila shots were given out at the bar.  The music was a nice blend of house and techno, which felt perfect for the mood.  A lot of travelers in their mid twenties showed up and it was joyful talking to all of them.  The colors from the surrounding bars all blurred together to create this beautiful glow, and I felt a sense of excitement, awe, and wonder.  I felt exactly like the dog I captured in the photo below:

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A dog from the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare Center frolics outside of the Mushroom Bar.

As if they appeared out of nowhere, around midnight a group of trained acrobatics came to the beach and put on a grand fire show.  Apparently these happen almost every night, or whenever one of the beach bars has its weekly party:

Around 3am I finally felt tired so I went back to my bungalow and fell asleep.  Though the taste of the happy shake wasn’t that appetizing, I would recommend it to those who are looking to enjoy the beach in a new way.  Just one is good enough to feel the happiness that most people seek, and the people at the bar seem to take good care of you.

The next morning was met with a beautiful afterglow as I prepared to tour the islands surrounding Koh Lanta.  I tried some delicious fried squid and bananas soaked in tapioca milk at a restaurant nearby with a newfound sense of determination and wonder for my future travels!

Volunteering at the Koh Lanta Animal Welfare Center (Thailand)

Koh Lanta is an exotic and tropical island located in the Krabi Province of Thailand.  It is somewhat secluded and is a popular backpacking and resort destination due to its relaxed nature and beautiful wildlife.  One of the key points of interest on my 2nd trip to Thailand was doing some volunteer work, so I decided to volunteer at the Lanta Animal Welfare Center!

The Lanta Animal Welfare Center is a non-profit charity that saves animals from injuries and abuse, and then aims to release them back into the wild where they were found or to give them to proper homes.  Due to the location of Koh Lanta being far away from the mainland of Thailand, this is sometimes difficult so they are accepting both volunteers and donations.  Anyone visiting Thailand can come here and help out.  There is no cost for doing so (though donations are encouraged), so all it costs is your time!

Below is a video of the main are of the center that I captured:

A typical visit to the center usually starts out with a tour so you can become acquainted with some of the animals and hear their stories.  For example; according the the official website a dog was injured by a coconut falling from a tree and lost the use of his back legs.  Fortunately nurses were able to cure the spinal injury that he suffered from, and now he can walk again!

The founder of this Welfare Center was able to fund it by cooking at a restaurant for many years and using the profits to build the cages and medical areas within it. As of now, approximately 15,000 animals have been sterilized and saved thanks to the help and support of volunteers.  They also have mobile clinics where workers are sent to other parts of Thailand to treat animals that can’t make the way here, and also for the purpose of sterilization and vaccination.  Unfortunately the Thailand government does not give any aid to animals, so workers here are trying to spread awareness and hopefully receive some funding in the future.

After the tour, you are free to walk around Kitty City and pet the cats, or take a dog out on a walk!  I took a puppy named Hailey around the beach and went running with her.  There is also a Kitty Cafe where I bought a delicious cupcake.  All money spent here goes towards maintaining the center, and the food here is very delicious.

For those who are interested in working here, Job Opportunities are sometimes listed on the website, but it is easiest to come in-person and start volunteering first.  If you are interested in donating, please see the Donation Page.  I hope that more backpackers decide to stop here, because it really is rewarding and meaningful to everyone. ♥

Mameshiba Cafe in Harajuku, Japan

It goes without saying that Shibas are the most beloved breed of dog in Japan. From the Hachiko statue in Shibuya, to the many memes of them that have surfaced of them the internet, it’s no surprise that Mameshiba Cafe would be opened in Harajuku where many tourists and shoppers flock. Not being able to resist the urge of to pet these adorable dogs, my friend and I decided to go visit!

The cafe is quite popular now, but they have a well-organized ticketing system to make sure that everyone gets in. You go up the stairs, pay the entrance fee of 1350 yen (a little more expensive than other animal cafes, but perhaps these dogs cost more to take care of), then are handed a numbered ticket. We went on a crowded Saturday so we had to wait for 2 hours, but luckily we could go shopping and come back! The cafe is in central Takeshita Street so fortunately there are many things to do!

Though we only had 30 minutes to play with the dogs, the atmosphere was happy, relaxed, and you could see the dogs were too! You are able pet them and take non-flash photography, but you are not able to hold them. What’s interesting is all of the dogs were female. Mameshibas are shibas that are tinier than average, so that made them all the more cuter!

Taking pictures of them was hard because they move around so much, but it kind of like felt like playing Pokémon Snap! They had adorable huge plus shibas as well as keychains for sale. I would say I enjoyed this cafe more than other animal cafes, because sometimes the animals aren’t as social. Being with these doggos definitely boosted my mood, so if you have time, I think you should go!